BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Ruth Whitfield’s family said she was a woman who devoted her life to her loved ones.

Her son, former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr., said he last saw his mother the day before the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue. He was building her a flower box.

“She was telling me to leave that box alone, she didn’t need that box, don’t bother that, go rest,” he said. “She wasn’t trying to grow seeds in that box – she had been tending her seeds all her life. She was taking are of us her whole life.”

Whitfield was shot and killed after she stopped at the grocery store on her way home. She had been visiting her husband, Garnell Sr., at his nursing home. The two had been married for nearly seven decades.

Her children said their mother loved to cook – often taking the ingredients she had on hand and turning them into a meal. She loved to travel, especially after her husband’s retirement. But most importantly, they said she loved her family, and loved them unconditionally.

They spent Saturday, two weeks after the shooting, celebrating her life and making sure it was not in vein.

“We will not go quietly into the night. My mother deserved more than that,” Whitfield Jr. said.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff flew into Buffalo from D.C. to attend Whitfield’s funeral.

Harris had not planned to speak at the service, but was called up by Reverend Al Sharpton who was delivering the eulogy.

“I’m here to say we are all in this together,” Harris told Whitfield’s loved ones. “No one should ever be made to fight alone. We are stronger than those who try to hurt us think that we are. We are strong.”

Ruth Whitfield is survived by her four children, nine grandchildren and her husband, who she called her soulmate.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.